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Tembe Elephant Park

VOLUNTEER TRIP SOUTH AFRICA

Tembe Elephant Park

This morning at 7 AM we got transferred to Tembe camp which is near the border of Mozambique, a very educational drive through Zululand. Coming from a very protected upbringing and never had to miss out on anything, my findings of passing through Zululand, is just that, my observation.

The main road is a gravel road, passing by a very big remote area set with little houses, almost all unfinished, very basic, although their yards are all very clean. No gardens, but sandy yards. Almost all of these properties have a small round building with a pointed roof. Our driver, Vincent, who is local, explained that these little round houses are for the ancestors, so whenever they want to talk to their ancestors, they go there. Also when building a property, the small round building has to built first, before the main house can be built. It is quite an impoverished area, however children are happy and playing.

Through the whole ride, I saw people just lingering on the road, just sitting alone or in groups. This is their way of socialising I’ve been told. Some have mangos and sweet potatoes and people just stop and buy them. I saw women and children, not even 10 years old, rolling big blue barrels, which was their water supply.

One of the regular sights on the road, are the local cows, yes I’m not joking, they are wandering in the middle of the road or just about to cross. These animals have free run and belong to the Zulu king, some are tagged and are owned privately. It is the equivalent of money and status.

 

Zululand

We stopped off at a little village Mbazwana as we wanted some fresh fruit and veg, I have never seen so many people queueing up at a supermarket. As it was the first working day and obviously pay day of the month, everyone was there to get their supplies in. We bought some lovely fruit and vegetables from the ladies sitting outside the supermarket. It was quite fascinating, 3 white women in a sea of black faces. Our driver insisted to come with us, but it was more for his reassurance than for the risk of danger. As there was no danger or hostility. There is more danger in the big cities in South Africa than in Zululand. But if you’re not used to it, it can be intimidating, especially as an outsider.

The first day at camp, was getting ourself sorted, rooms allocated, grocery shopping for a week’s supply and cleaning the kitchen cupboards out as bugs and crawlies are part of the parcel, I don’t really mind them, but I prefer them not to mix with my food.

Zululand Rhino Reserve

At around 18.00 we went out for an evening session in the reserve, it gets dark around 19.00 and it looked we were going to get some rain. We were tracking some lions that haven’t been seen for a while. And we got to see this gorgeous male nyala.

The weather gods were kind to Zululand, but not to us, sitting at the back of an open 4×4 as the rain started to come down. We kept on tracking the lions for a few kms even when the dark set in, never really seeing them, but according the readings, they were not further than 100 meters away. The rainforest is thick and it’s a great place for hiding for them.

 

Zululand Rhino Reserve

We were back at camp around 19.30, very tired and our 4th member had arrived and sat waiting for us outside in complete darkness. This is not central London, with lights galore. If you don’t have a flashlight, there won’t be light at night, with the exception of inside the building and rooms.

 

Tembe camp - accommodation
tembe camp - kitchen
tembe camp - bedrooms
tembe camp - communal area

Tembe camp

The camp consists of different buildings, you have the main building, which is the communal area with kitchen, dining table and relax area.

Then you have the shower a little bit further outside, and 3 outside toilets, there are 4 individual cabins, with twin beds and air-conditioning if you are lucky… I am the only lucky one! 😉

The 1st night, I had to go to the toilet in the middle of the night, up I went, took my flashlight and opened my door. It is pitch dark, no little bit of light comes in, and this is enhanced by the vegetation around and in camp. Lots of noises going on from all types of animals and creatures.. Well, I had to go, so no no option, passed the other cabins, everything was quiet.. passed the laundry room.. and finally the toilets came in sight.. It’s not a treck I want to do every night. So water intake will be limited from late afternoon. We also need to keep all doors closed at all times, as lizzards, scorpions, spiders, snakes will come in to your room, toilet or shower. The bugs are humongous.

We are told whenever we go out at night, although we are fenced in, to just do a quick survey that nothing ‘big’ has come in, as it has happened that monkeys have come into camp and wracked havoc.

It’s all very quaint and it’s how camp should be.

tembe camp - lounge
tembe camp - toilets
tembe camp - laundry room
tembe camp - bathroom

About The Author

Dagmar

Hi everyone, I'm Dagmar and I'm born in Belgium, at 27 I moved to the south coast of Spain, initially just for 6 months, however 22 years later, I'm still here. I have a big passion for animal welfare. I have 3 dogs and a cat, all rescues. In September 2015, I turned vegetarian and over the course of that year, I have leant more and more towards veganism. My aim is to eat as 'clean' as possible.

4 Comments

  1. Nadine de vijlder

    Wow….what an adventure…wish I was there too…enjoy and stay safe.xxx

    Reply
    • Dagmar

      I’m trying very hard.. But those elephants are quite intimidating. Xxx

      Reply
  2. Steve

    Loving the blog! Take care xxx

    Reply

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